Islands in the Stream–Is That What We Are?

We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone.  Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone. – Orson Welles

I am an island.  I am an island.  I am an island.  Is this the mantra everyone expects me to adopt these days?

I don’t want to be an island.

I’m so tired of being bombarded by this particular social norm, especially when I get the idea that it’s a huge part of the reason people are becoming disconnected from one another–why so many people hate other people in general, and why everyone uses Facebook at night instead of spending that time with people they care about.

It used to be that people were dependent on others for their survival, and I think we were better off for it.  Now we are all supposed to be these super independent, I-don’t-need-anyone types who can do everything by ourselves and are perfectly content to be alone.  Friends, family, and even our spouses are supposed to be expendable pieces of our lives, nice additions, afterthoughts.  People we can just throw away if they become bothersome.

I don’t want to live that way.  Does it bother anyone else that we are being pressured by society to be detached from other people?  I kid you not, a psychiatrist gave me a book on co-dependency saying you should hold yourself back from loving anyone too much.  This way of living, the book had the audacity to claim, is much more rewarding.

So excuse me if I’m about to sound puerile, but I want to give all of myself to someone, and to have him give all of himself to me.  I want to trust someone that much and be rewarded with the return of his trust.  I want to love my friends with everything I’ve got and not have them get uncomfortable when I tell them I love them.  I want to find and marry the guy who’s going to be my best friend and who’s going to give me just as much affection as he’s going to receive from me.  Forget being an island in an ocean of islands.  I mean really, what an empty way to live: always with people and yet always alone.  The only way to truly not be alone is to share yourself with others and to accept other people in their entirety–to be inextricable parts of each others’ lives.  Am I really the only person who sees this?  No, of course not.  Orson Welles got it.  There have to be others out there more like me, who still believe in love that is unselfish and is given a hundred percent instead of holding a piece of oneself back.

Like it or not, humans are social animals that need contact with others for our healthy development.  Why would anyone choose to do something so important only half way?  I realize that the depth of emotional abuse I went through last year has made me terribly biased, not to mention cynical, but if you were to ask me (and if my sounding a bit like Jesus for a minute bothers you, too frickin’ bad), I’d say the world is suffering from a lack of love, not love overkill.  Do you ever wonder why political correctness is getting out of hand?  Maybe it’s true that part of the reason is that people are losing their thick hides, but I think another, bigger reason is that it’s our replacement for people actually caring about others.  And I’m not saying we shouldn’t care about ourselves, I just think that holding ourselves back from caring about other people too much is a lonely and selfish way to live.

I worry about the world that touts loneliness and selfishness as a way to self-fulfillment.

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6 thoughts on “Islands in the Stream–Is That What We Are?

    • Reading this again, I don’t think I make much sense with that first sentence. I think I was going for we’re not alone in the world even if we pretend to be. We rely on people every day for just about everything, and there is nothing wrong with that. It’s how we are able to have all the benefits of an advanced, both technologically and socially, society. There is no reason we can’t also be tied to people for a more intimate needs be they friendship, companionship, or whatever else.

    • I don’t know anyone who’d disagree with that sentiment, Robert. I think where people disagree with me is the depth to which I feel it’s okay to care about people. Lots of people seem to think we should place ourselves above all others, and to an extent, I can even see their point, but I don’t think that’s the best way to live. I don’t think it’s the FULLEST and most self-fulfilling way to live. And if it tells you anything, this is coming from someone still struggling with a severe case of heartbreak. That is how strongly I feel on this topic.

  1. I cannot adequately express to you in mere how much I enjoyed and applaud this blog post. I agreed with you on every single count. EVERY. SINGLE. COUNT.

    I want to give you a high-five so epic that our hands might sting for a month down the road.

    Yes. Yes. YES.

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